A monthly newsletter published by United Neighborhoods for Los Angeles.
UN4LA's mission is to bring communities together to plan for a sustainable future. Growth must be shaped by community engagement, not developer dollars.
SB 50 FAILS TO WIN STATE SENATE APPROVAL
On January 30, SB 50, Scott Wiener's controversial bill that would have upzoned urban areas around transit corridors, failed to win enough votes to move from the State Senate. The bill's twisted passage to the Senate floor was highly unusual. It was placed in suspense last year by the Appropriations Committee, then withdrawn from that committee on January 17 by Senate President Toni Atkins. It was next sent to the Rules Committee, but was withdrawn again on January 27 and sent to the Senate floor for a vote. A vote was held on Wednesday, January 29, in which the bill failed to win approval, but it came back again the following day. By all accounts, Thursday was a long and difficult session for Senators, as the vote on SB 50 was delayed while Senator Wiener and his allies engaged in a furious lobbying effort to win support. In the end, they couldn't come up with enough votes.
UN4LA agrees with tenants' rights activists and community groups across the State that SB 50 was a poorly conceived piece of legislation that would have done much more harm than good. Recklessly upzoning parcels throughout the State would have pushed real estate prices higher than they are now, and would have likely resulted in massive displacement. And Wiener's claim that upzoning near transit would get people out of cars and onto trains and busses is not supported by the data. San Francisco, the area Wiener serves, has built thousands of new units near transit over the past two decades, and yet average weekday ridership in that city is below the level it was in 2001. And while LA has been aggressively building residential high-rises along transit corridors, ridership is actually lower than it was 30 years ago, in spite of the fact that LA County has added more than a million people during that same period.
But rational planning and actual data don't seem to mean much to Wiener, nor to Senate President Toni Atkins and Governor Gavin Newsom. After the bill failed, all three pledged to keep pushing for legislation along the lines of SB 50. This isn't surprising, since real estate investors, construction interests and chambers of commerce throughout California all support legislation that would force cities to upzone. Opponents of SB 50 have also warned that Wiener may come back later this year with a gut-and-amend ploy, as he did in 2019. Last year Wiener introduced SB 592, which initially addressed licensing requirements for cosmetologists. In mid-year, Wiener threw out the original language and replaced it with new language that would have made changes to the Housing Accountability Act. This cynical move seems to indicate that Wiener has little regard for transparency, and is more interested in getting bills passed than participating in an open democratic process.
It's clear that SB 50's defeat does not mean the end of Sacramento's push to override local planning authority. Scott Wiener will be back.
CITY OF L.A. IS UPDATING ITS HOUSING ELEMENT
Housing is obviously an issue of concern to everyone who lives in the City of LA, and residents should be aware that the City is getting reading to update the Housing Element of its General Plan. This important process will affect how the City plans for future residential construction. Follow the link below to view the current Housing Element, and to sign up for e-mail notifications regarding the update.
HOW WILL THE SIDEWALK REPAIR PROGRAM IMPACT THE URBAN FOREST?
The public has a little over 3 weeks left to submit comments on the massive Sidewalk Repair Program Environmental Impact Report (SRP EIR), which runs over 1,700 pages including the appendices. The City will claim that the 60 day comment period allows ample time to study the EIR, but it's important to remember that they released the EIR on December 26, in the middle of the holidays, when many Angelenos were out of town. The City's interest in public participation in the process is questionable to begin with, since it began removing trees under the SRP almost two years ago.
UN4LA will be joining other groups in asking for an extension of the EIR comment period, but even if that request is denied, we will still be submitting comments by the February 24 deadline. You can submit comments, too. To view the SRP EIR, click on the following link and scroll to the bottom of the page.
Sidewalk Repair Program EIR
The address to send comments to is:
The City asks that you include "SRP DEIR" in the subject line
HARBOR COMMISSIONERS APPROVE FIRST PHASE OF SAN PEDRO PUBLIC MARKET
In January the Board of Harbor Commissioners gave the greenlight for construction of the San Pedro Public Market to begin. The first phase is comprised of 150,000 square feet of shops and restaurants and 30,000 square feet of office space. The project includes the restoration of about 90,000 square feet of wharf and dock space. An outdoor amphitheater is also planned, but approvals are still pending. The San Pedro Public Market will replace Ports O' Call, a seaside plaza which was constructed in the early 60s. This article from Curbed offers more details.
San Pedro Public Market Cleared to Start Construction
CHALLENGES AHEAD FOR GRIFFITH PARK
One of the most difficult issues facing the L.A. City Department of Recreation & Parks is handling traffic and tourism in Griffith Park. Congestion heading up to the Observatory is getting steadily worse, and it's not uncommon to see a long line of cars parked on the roads leading up to it, since the parking lot is often full. The problems surrounding the Hollywood Sign are even more vexing, with tourists racing up narrow hillside roads to snap a selfie with the landmark, often tossing bottles, cans, and cigarettes out of their cars on the way. The cigarettes are especially problematic, since virtually the entire hillside area is a high fire hazard zone.
For years the City Council has been trying to find solutions to these problems, without much luck. They've studied many options, including electric shuttles, improved signage, increased traffic enforcement, and changes to park hours. And last year the City hired a firm to study the possibility of building an aerial tram through the park. Supporters argue that it would give tourists a way to reach the sign without driving. Detractors say that the construction of a tram would deface the park and possibly exacerbate tourism problems.
Study for Aerial Tram to Griffith Park Now Underway
On the other hand, maybe we could just create another Hollywood Sign.
Report To Reduce Tourist Traffic Includes Second Hollywood Sign